5 days in the life of ... Alex Kingston

The British star of the medical soap 'ER' reflects on a celebrity's life in LA
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Indy Lifestyle Online
MONDAY: I've been here nearly a year now, and we've shot 19 episodes. It all started in 1996, when I came to the States to promote Moll Flanders on television, and suddenly people wanted to know who I was. On the day I was due to fly back to London in early 1997 I heard that the ER writers wanted to meet me; we sat in a room and just talked. By the time I'd got to the airport they had offered me a part. I think they wanted the different point of view that an English character would bring to the show.

Occasionally the scriptwriters come up with something an English person wouldn't say, and we change it. Or I introduce English expressions to the character. I've had Dr Corday using the word "tosser". I'm sure it wouldn't be allowed if they really knew what it meant.

We shoot five days a week. I'd had the weekend off and on Saturday night I was on the ER table at the Screen Actors' Guild Awards dinner. We had Jane Fonda and Ted Turner at the next table, and you look across and there's Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck and Jack Nicholson. This morning I was on set at seven. We shot until about 10.30, and then I had a break until the afternoon. If I have two or three hours to kill I drive home or go to the gym, but my agent was over from England, and I had lunch with her and my publicist. Tonight I baby-sat for the young daughter of my assistant Henry. I'm her godmother.

TUESDAY: A day off. That means not waking up till 8.30, and then I go for an hour's walk. I live in a part of LA called Studio City, the opposite side to Beverly Hills, not the posh side. Where I walk is an area which I'm told Hugh Grant described as "dogshit canyon". Then I went to yoga, had lunch with my agent, and then dealt with my mail. Fan-mail is building up. I get quite a lot from England in which people have enclosed stamped addressed envelopes - which is nice of them but of course the stamps aren't much use here. I'm beginning to be recognised more. In LA people are used to seeing actors and don't react so much. But we go to Chicago four times a year to shoot the exterior scenes, and there they are much more vocal. Tonight I went to see the Coen brothers' new film, The Big Lebowski, which is good.

WEDNESDAY: My birthday. I didn't have any filming until this afternoon, so I had friends round for a breakfast party. Henry produced fat-free muffins. Tonight I was taken out for supper by a close friend - to a restaurant called the Four Oaks. It used to be a brothel in the 1920s. Now it's one of the best restaurants in LA.

THURSDAY: Tonight I was fortunate enough to be invited to the premiere of Primary Colors, with John Travolta and Emma Thompson. I know her socially and we've done one film together - Carrington - so it was nice to catch up with her again. There are more and more Brits out here, but we don't particularly hang out together. I bumped into Helen Baxendale from Friends a while ago. I'd last seen her when we worked together at the Hampstead Theatre. For premieres you get designers offering to dress you for the evening, which is nice. I wore something by Amsale, an Ethiopian designer working in New York. She's not so established yet, but she's wonderful and I like to support her. I give her back the outfits afterwards, because I haven't got the wardrobe space.

FRIDAY: A long day's shooting. Trauma scenes always take longest, because you have real doctors on hand advising you, and they rehearse each actor individually. I think I could probably give somebody an injection now without being too squeamish about it. I really enjoy living here, and have a fear that I might find England claustrophobic. But I miss the daffodils, and imagine the blossom coming out.